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Out & About in Switzerland: Cow fights in Valais

Fighting to be Queen of Valais Keystone

The last bovine showdown of the year in canton Valais will take place in the Roman amphitheatre in Martigny on September 30 and October 1. The fights are held throughout the canton to determine which beast will lead the herd up to the alpine pastures.

This content was published on September 25, 2000 - 16:10

The event, held during the Valais Fair (Foire du Valais), has a long tradition in the Valais. The all-black Hérens breed, known for their fighting instincts, do battle to determine their ranking, with the winner being crowned "Queen".

The contests begin in the spring at a much more modest level across the canton. Finally released from their stalls after the long winter months, the cows charge, lock horns and try to push each other back, rarely getting hurt.

The very best bovines will strut their stuff in the ring next weekend in Martigny. (October 7 and 8 in case of bad weather). The city is the oldest in the canton as the Roman amphitheatre bears witness.

The regional fair (September 29 to October 8) is a highlight on the local calendar. There will be other farm and agriculture exhibits, tastings and a hall devoted to youthful pursuits including skateboarding.

There will be special exhibitions dedicated to three guests of honour; Belgium's Wallonia region and Mexico, as well as the nearby alpine resort of Verbier.

Other attractions in Martigny include the "Fondation Pierre Gianadda" and the The Bâtiaz castle.

The former is a renowned cultural centre showcasing art exhibitions and concerts, a sculpture park, a Gallo-Roman archeological museum and an antique car collection. Among this year's highlights is the Van Gogh exhibition running until November 26.

The Bâtiaz castle is a 13th century fortification built to control traffic between France and Italy through the Rhone valley. Today it houses siege weapons, torture chambers and a medieval tavern.

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Out & About in Switzerland is updated regularly to keep you informed of upcoming events, which may provide a different insight into the country and its people.

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